City Council is working to tackle the housing emergency, as well as the causes which make it difficult to access housing in the city. To this end, a new housing policy is being put into place with a clear ethos behind it: housing is a basic right for anyone and everyone.
Measures are being developed from all perspectives. On one hand, the promotion of affordable housing with 11.8 million euros allocated for subsidies to pay rent. Renovation grants have also been made available not only to dignify buildings, but also, for the first time, the insides of homes. The municipal government is also backing an increase in the public housing stock via the acquisition of homes, having spent17.3 million euros in this area this to date, and with the building of new housing projects, with 2,000 flats currently in the process of construction.
City Council recently used its right of first refusal to purchase a building in the Ciutat Vella district which belonged to SAREB and has also announced the purchase of the Espai de l’Immigrant building to be converted into public housing. The activation of housing belonging to owners of large stocks of properties is also an area where action is being taken. “As far as the law will allow us, we’re working to turn around the presence of public housing in the city”, explained Josep Maria Montaner, Councillor for Housing.
A specific team to prevent evictions
In January 2016 the Unit to Counter Residential Exclusion (UCER) was set up. In its first six months the service provided support for 1,515 families, 35% of whom included minors. Almost 40% of cases have been resolved with definitive or temporary solutions, while 60% of cases have been adjourned. Overall, 94% of cases are families which are unable to keep up with rent payment and in 30% of cases there are large-scale property owners pursuing eviction processes. “Housing, before being a commercial asset, is a basic right”, remarked the Mayor, Ada Colau.
Full information on the new housing website
All services relating to housing are now detailed on a single website: habitatge.barcelona. Users can find information about renovation grants, public housing projects which are under way and the applicants register. The web also aims to help the renting out of empty flats.
The Mayor, Ada Colau, insisted on the need to regulate abusive rents to “prevent speculation with this basic right”. To tackle the housing emergency, Colau is backing a public price index and an increase in the duration of rent contracts. Proposals also include re-examining eviction protocols “to prevent cases such as the one in Sants-Montjuïc from being repeated”. Colau also called on the Generalitat to speed up the passing of the new law to substitute Law 24/2015 on the housing emergency, suspended by the Spanish Constitutional Court.